Leclerc fends off Alonso for P3: “We’ve optimised absolutely everything”

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Charles Leclerc put forth a strong effort to finish on the podium for the first time this season, taking third at the Azerbaijani Grand Prix, but concedes that despite taking pole for both the sprint and feature races, Ferrari still have a long way to go to challenge Red Bull.

“They are in another league once it comes to the race. So, the really good lap managed to put us in front, but then over 51 laps it was just not possible. They have so much more pace than we do in race pace.”

Leclerc managed to hold off Fernando Alonso and deprive the Spanish veteran of a podium for the first time this season, but to Leclerc Aston Martin are still ahead of Ferrari on track.

“For now, over one lap, taking a bit more risk, of course I did also two great laps I think, in Qualifying, which helped us to be in front, but then, over 51 laps race, there is not much we can do more. So today, we’ve optimised absolutely everything.

“I knew what his [Alonso’s] intentions were at the beginning, because he always does that—trying to keep the tyres at the beginning of the stint and pushing at the end—so I tried to do the same. And at the end, it was close, but not enough for Fernando today.

With an overdue quality points finish in the books, Ferrari and Leclerc will go back to work on closing the gap as the series heads to Miami next weekend.

“The thing we should be happy about after a weekend like this is that we’ve maximised every session. I don’t think we could have done anything better in any of those sessions. So that is a positive – but still a lot of work to do in terms of race pace.”